Jonathan Shambroom
Jonathan Shambroom
Introducing the Ning Product Roadmap
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Introducing the Ning Product Roadmap

Many start-ups say they want to publish a public product roadmap. Few do.

There are several reasons why companies don’t do this: It might reveal too much to the competition. It might force commitments and limit flexibility. It may feel like a burden. Plus, don’t customers like to be surprised when they sign in and spot a shiny, new feature? Under-promise and over-deliver, right?

There are several ways to look at it. But there’s one extremely good reason a company like ours should publish a product roadmap: Quite simply, it will make our customers happy. Making customers happy is a core part of our business.

As our CEO put it recently, one of our big goals for 2011 is to delight our customers. To that end, we’re hoping you’ll be delighted that we’re delivering on our promise of transparency and openness and releasing the Ning Product Roadmap.

We understand that the level of communication our customers want about Ning the product are varied. Our most strident Ning Creators would like a seat at every engineering meeting (and maybe even veto power). Other Creators don’t want to be bothered with an email newsletter. We think the key to satisfying as many people as possible is two-fold: 1) Provide different options for communication so every customer can have as much or as little involvement and detail as they prefer, and 2) be as open and transparent as possible about what we’re planning.

The Ning Product Roadmap is one part of this ongoing communication, but we’ve added a few more to ring in the new year that you may or may not have noticed:

  • Beta Page: If you’re itching to try out the features that are coming soon, you might just find them on the new Beta Page of your Dashboard. We’ll release what we can for those who are curious, and you can choose to try them out. Or wait until they’re officially official. It’s up to you.
  • Ning Announcements: You don’t have to be a member of the Creators Network to stay in-the-know. We recently put a an RSS feed of our Creators Network Announcements directly on your Dashboard. Every time you sign in, you’ll have access to headlines, which you can browse and dismiss — or go check out if you’re curious.
  • Known Issues: We’ve dedicated a page on the Creators Network to tracking some of our most important bugs. Some Ning Creators have asked for more visibility into those types of technical details, so we’re providing it.

We think the benefits of being open and communicative with our customers will make us go farther and faster in the long run. We already have what many social-media-savvy businesses strive for but don’t often achieve: a thriving customer community where people are encouraged to pipe up and share their feedback, advice, and opinions. Now, to complement that, we’ve charted a public course with milestones to hit along the way. By setting product expectations, and then following through on them, we’re confident we’ll create an even more enduring customer-company partnership.

And, most importantly, we’ll make our customers happy.